HHS/CDC Final Rule on Revisions to the Medical Screening Process

Last Updated

February 26, 2016

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule, effective March 28, 2016, amending its regulations governing medical examinations that non-citizens must undergo before they may be admitted to the United States. 42 CFR § 34.

The new rule will: (1) revise the definition of “communicable disease of public health significance”by removing certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) – chancroid, granuloma inguinale, and lymphogranuloma venereum – as inadmissible health-related conditions for non-citizens seeking admission to the United States; (2) update the notification of the health-related grounds of inadmissibility to include proof of vaccinations to align with existing requirements established by the INA; (3) revise the definitions and evaluation criteria for mental disorders, drug abuse and drug addiction; (4) clarify and revise the evaluation requirements for tuberculosis; (5) clarify and revise the process for the HHS/CDC-appointed medical review board that convenes to reexamine the determination of a Class A medical condition based on an appeal; and (6) update the titles and designations of federal agencies within the text of the regulation.

The elimination of chancroid, granuloma inguinale, and lymphogranuloma venereum from the list of communicable diseases that could lead to inadmissibility (42 CFR § 34.2(b)) is significant in that three uncommon bacterial infections will no longer need to be screened for.

Additionally, the changes to the definitions and evaluation criteria for drug abuse (8 CFR § 34.2(h)) and drug addiction (8 CFR § 34.2(i)) are significant in that HHS/CDC is coming into alignment with the definitions of “substance use disorders” and “substance-induced disorders,” provided by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association. The DSM is the medical standard for the diagnosis of mental disorders and substance-related disorders and provides current diagnostic criteria based on the latest available evidence.

For more on this final rule go to the Federal Register.